If you haven’t seen me for the past three weeks, you will be unaware of the story I’m currently working on for the paper. If you have seen me, you probably know all about it, mostly because I haven’t stopped talking about it. My co-worker Steven and I have been on this story for a three-week sprint. We’re completely immersed. We’re so close to it, have read it so many times, we can’t edit anymore.
The main educational takeaway from this story has been organization and mostly how difficult it can be. DJANGO, the program we write and edit in at the Missourian, is not very user-friendly, especially for editing. We resorted to printing out our story and editing it by hands. I know what you’re thinking: how medieval! How rudimentary!
I edit papers better when they’re in a physical form. I can read it aloud and mark in the margins. I get to cross things out, draw arrows, practice my proofreading marks. I’m not really sure what took me so long to use the process with my reporting. The dental story is at right about 1,100 words and it slotted to be a centerpiece — it really requires a visual edit.
Reporting is grueling sometimes. One can only call so many dentists until you, your partner and your editor give up. One can only pour over statistics and comma placement and the difference between “higher ratio” and “larger ratio” for so long until your brain turns to mush and your eyes fall out and then you have to go eat dinner and take a nap.
We try to make a valiant effort towards Pulitzer-worthy reporting. We want inner-sanctum sources who open up to us and never-before-seen statistics and clever, clear, concise copy. We can’t always get what we want. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sources don’t call us back. Sources aren’t forthcoming. An alien spaceship abducts all the rural dentists in the state and won’t let them call us back.
But hey, we tried, right?
I know. I’m getting used to the idea of settling, too.